3zine.jpg (21333 bytes)Zack Neruda's KFNS interview- transcribed by WV EWE (Dec 15)
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KFNS: This week we have been taking a look at Internet sites and there are so many different sports Internet sites that are out there. You’ve got the official team sites which we’re going to cover tomorrow, talking about the Blues and the Rams and we’ve got the major media outlet, CNNSI.com, ESPN.com and on Monday of this week we talked to some fans who interact on various message boards, the Rivals.com board for the Rams and the hardrocksports.com board for the St. Louis baseball Cardinals. A gentleman who has kinda taken it to even more of a level along with some of the other fans of the St. Louis Rams football team, and they’re known as the Herd, and there are a lot of them, and maybe Zack Neruda, the editor of the Herd’s Ezine can tell us how many members there are of the Herd, or that have at least said, “yes, I am a member of the Herd, I want to be a member of the Herd.” But the Ramsezine.com and I’ll give you that spelled out…Rams, obviously r-a-m-s-e-z-i-n-e.com is where you can see just some fascinating stuff in various posts from fans of the Rams and we’re going to head to Portland, Maine, Portland, Maine to talk to the gentleman who is the editor and one of the people involved with the Herd’s Ezine, or Ezyne, Ezine, I can’t get it, (laughing), Ezeeeen, magazine, if they’d just made it eene it would have helped idiots like me. Well we say good morning to Mr. Zack Neruda, involved with the Herd, Good Morning, Zack.

Zack: Good Morning.

KFNS: How are ya?

Zack: I’m fine, how are you?

KFNS: We are excellent. We thank you for joining us and first of all want to congratulate you on a wonderful site that people who like Rams football, I think, should definitely take a look at, the Herd’s Ezine. We talked about earlier in the week. We talked about the Herd and the message board at Rivals.com but you’ve taken it to a whole different level along with some other Rams fans. Why don’t you outline what the Ezine is all about.

Zack: OK. Well first lets make it easy. I usually just call it the Zine.

KFNS OK, that’ll help me. The Zine.

Zack: Right. Well first, a zine by definition is an amateur magazine.

KFNS: OK.

Zack: Yeah, they started out as print magazines in the 70’s and they migrated to the net. So an ezine is an electronic zine. And what a Rams Ezine would be or the Rams Zine is… it is written by fans, we don’t get anything for it, except, you know, just the pleasure of doing it, and what we tend to do is just collect the best posts we can find and we ask people to submit things about the Rams and it allows us to archive messages and posts which are really valuable and might be otherwise lost. And it gives us a place to collect information and ideas and opinions and insights that we think we’d like to discover if we were just surfing the net and wanted a place to share thoughts about the Rams. And I should add real quickly here, most of the real work is done by the publisher, Troy whose online name is Ramsrule, he does the actual formatting and I just simply edit the posts and select them.

KFNS: How tough is it to put this together, because for folks that have not seen it, it is very in depth. You mention Ramsrule and he must work quite a bit on this because its very in depth. It’s kept very up to date. It includes all different things like you said from individual’s analysis and opinion, to information that you all find in other places and little tid bits that people have picked up throughout the United States because, like we said, you’re from Portland Maine and as we talked on Monday about these message boards it’s a way for fans all across the United States to interact, and the world.

Zack: Yeah, its true. I would imagine that the publishing and formatting part is hard although, Ramsrule, I mean he’s very good at it and it’s his corner of the universe. I know nothing about that. I mean to me that’s just magic. As far as I know he asks the Internet elves to help him.

KFNS: It just shows up there.

Zack: Yeah, but my job is to collect and edit the posts. And it’s not that hard because if I’m going to be reading the message boards anyway…I tend to surf several of them…All I add to that is a little cutting and pasting. I pull out what I think is a post worth saving and sometimes I combine them by a single individual and just try to put 4 or 5 in every update. We tend to have 2 updates a week and offer the world something that, again, we think we’d like to find if we were just surfing the net in our loneliness all over the country, without fellow Rams fans and you know as a source of insight and info to supplement official sources like the Post Dispatch.

KFNS: Zack, we’ve talked with some other people from some different Ram sites this week and the numbers are staggering about how many hits they get and where they’re coming from. Have you all been able to do any type of searches like that and investigate where a lot of the hits are coming from and how many you’re getting?

Zack: I know how many we’re getting but we can’t always tell where they’re coming from. Just to give you a sense I looked at it last night about 12:30 a.m. my time on the East Coast and again this morning and over night we had 150 hits, which means if nothing else we’re serving a small but dedicated insomniac population, which I suppose is important too. On the message boards…I know that…I’m on a list-serve, which is an email type message board…and sometimes I’ll download several hundred. There’s four, five, six hundred hits, posts a day on the Rivals.com board, the Rams.rivals.com board, that you spoke about the other day with Old Hacker. So, I should add right here and right now, you were mentioning the other day, because I listened to Old Hacker’s interview, that there’s several hundred posts…actually my sense is that traffic is down, that it was even higher last April.

KFNS: Really?

Zack: Yeah, The message boards serve a real great function for Rams fans because we’re scattered all over the country. There’s a large group of very dedicated fans who stuck out the nineties, right?

KFNS: Yeah.

Zack: And we call ourselves the die-hards.

KFNS mm hmm.

Zack: For good reason.

KFNS For very good reason.

Zack: And some of us have no one to talk Rams football with. In Portland, Maine I will be the only person watching the Rams game in sports bars which is the only place I can see the game.

KFNS: Right.

Zack: So I would say, my guess is there’s several thousand people who use the various message boards, who read the Zine, etc.

KFNS: I took a look at the Herd’s roster if you will, of Rams fans and it’s a big number. I don’t know if you’ve got it pinpointed, Zack, but when you look at the location of some of those people, they are spread out all across the U.S. you might think you might have, you know, a greater number of people in the St. Louis area and maybe form the days in Los Angeles, but it is really spread throughout the U.S. and, you know, as we talked with Old Hacker on Monday, across the world, you had one in the United Kingdom and all over.

Zack: Yeah, Canada, Mexico, I interact with fans from Hawaii all the time on the message board. So, yeah, there is several hundred who are regulars.

KFNS: We have a gentleman who would like to ask you a question if that’s all right. His name is Mike and we’ll bring him online to talk with Zack Neruda of the Rams Ezine right now. Go ahead Mike.

Mike: Hi, Zack, this is Mike. I was listening to Old Hacker on Monday and he mentioned that the collective group of people that post on the Herd if you will, not particularly in relation to the Zyne, or Zine, excuse me, it forms a bit of a brotherhood if you will, not to exclude the terrific female posters on the board, but there is a sense of cohesiveness among the group and it’s a one for all attitude. And I’d like your comments on that, if you could expound on that.

KFNS: Yeah and Zack, we saw a little bit of that, for people who may have checked out the message board portion on Sunday afternoon, Sunday evening, into Monday about that kind of brotherhood, that friendship that’s created through different people posting and getting different people’s views. When you have a situation where they lock up the NFC West and there’s jubilation.

Zack: Right. I’m sorry I didn’t quite hear the comment or the question.

KFNS: He was kinda asking, you know, that …Old Hacker had talked about the brotherhood or the friendships or you know just the way so many people get caught up in the NFL and in their respective teams sometimes they need a place to vent, sometimes they want more information, and it all kinda comes together with the two sites that we’re talking about, the Ezine and the Rivals.com message board.

Zack: Yeah, there’s more to add about the poster board, its brotherhood, its community, a lot of people say, …sometimes…and source of info. It’s also a source of ongoing sibling rivalry. Which has its own interest and fascination. Its very, very dedicated fans, as I said and the average age, my guess, is, of the fans, just from interacting with them is in their forties. So it’s a way to express our benign, compulsive obsession with the Rams. But at the same time I have to add, real importantly here, the talent level here of the writers on these posts is amazing. I’m sure you’ve noticed that.

KFNS: Oh yes.

Zack: One of the purposes of the Zine was to take things that shouldn’t disappear…because the message board will, after a while, after you receive a certain number of messages, the messages just disappear. And we wanted to archive them.

KFNS: Oh I think that you make a very good point. Some people have gone to message boards before and maybe they get tired of some of the same type of things or you know, not the interesting, in depth, type of posts but you obviously have a lot of people that know many of the ins and outs of how the game of football is played. It really is fascinating to see some of the individuals and their analysis which seems to be right on. What do you have planned for the future as this continues to grow and more people get involved with either the board or the Zine, and of course with the Rams doing what they’re doing, it’s going to be a chance for Rams fans to interact in the month of January about playing football.

Zack: Oh yeah, as a matter of fact, last January was one of the busiest months.

KFNS: Figuring out what we’re gonna do, right Zack?

Zack: Yeah, actually the number of posts go up when everyone is anxious. Because then what’s going on is that the world’s trying to figure the thing out, right? And looking at the future, but for the Zine we’ve planned a few things. Sometime in the future when we get the opportunity, for example, we’re going to put in a search function. That means…we have several hundred pages on the Zine right now. When you pull up the Zine you see the front page but there’s an archive page, there’s other specialty pages, there’s a training camp page that true Rams fans will want to look at because there’s brilliant info on that. And we want people to be able to use the search function and find out anything they want. For example, you could write in Trent Green and pull up I would imagine several dozen pieces. And I’d like to cultivate some more regular writers. For example there are people who…well there’s one poster for example who takes it upon himself to analyze how the Trans World Dome tends toward in its use of the PA system to interfere with crowd noise. And he analyzes that and he’s very good on it, as a matter of fact the Trans World Dome people should read it. Right, and I’d like to cultivate more specialty things like that.

KFNS: Do you get to come to any games, Zack?

Zack: I haven’t been able to so far. I’m planning to next year. I’ve actually never been to the Trans World Dome. And I’d love to go.

KFNS: Yeah, after hearing so much about it and reading all these things from people who’ve been, you’d want to have that experience. Folks its really, for the Rams fan, I think it’s something they will like, something they will enjoy, something they will visit quite often. It is the Rams Ezine and it’s at Ramsezine.com. That’ll get the process going and let you see it and Zack, we thank you or coming on, outlining what it’s all about and I’ve gotta tell ya, it really is an in-depth site and for something that, you know, there’s no advertising on it this is really a labor of love for these Rams fans and a way for them to interact and get information from other Rams fans. You should check it out. And we thank you and wish you the best of luck with the Ezine the rest of the way and hopefully you’ll have some Superbowl coverage this year.

Zack: Right, yeah.

KFNS: Well take Care.

Zack: OK. Take care. Thank you.

KFNS: Thank you very much. That is Zack Neruda with us. The Herd. There presence on the web either at Rivals.com with their fantastic message board or the Ezine that you can find at Ramsezine.com. We’re at the top of the hour here on Sports Central A.M.
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